More and more I find that when I don't find something I want at the supermarket or specialty store I no longer just take it and move on.... No! I go on the Internet (YAY!) get the information I need, adapt it to my reality (no sense in beating my head against the wall after all....), go to the store and get to work!
To this day I can tell you that the results are more than worth the trouble!.... sure, you have to be a perfectionist (like me, lol) but you will be rewarded with some awesome food and being honest, I really like to be able to control what goes into my food and more often than not, even improve on the dish!
This happened when we wanted to have some Italian Sausage and I was sure I would be able to find it at our local Costco or Sam's since Mexican Supermarkets as a rule, don't carry this type of stuff. I soon found out, after visiting I don't know how many stores and in Merida, Yucatan, the German Consul's wife had opened a German type food store and was making her own sausages, she told me when I ran into her at the butcher we shared.... BUT, when we had her sausages we were let down because they weren't as great as we expected and very expensive. I knew I could improve on this and this then became my project which had excellent results.
Now, living in Puebla, I've found the same problems with finding some foods we want and so I went to the butcher yesterday (I found another good one here too!) got what I needed and we'll have them for dinner tonight.
Let me tell you what I bought and how I processed it:
HOT ITALIAN SAUSAGES -
4 Kilos ground pork, usually pork shoulder called 80/20 since it has 20% fat, boneless
6-7 tbl fennel seeds, whole
2-3 tbl whole black peppercorns or you can use mixed colors
2 tbl Kosher salt or sea salt
3 tbl garlic powder
3 tbl onion powder
3 tbl dried oregano
5-6 tbl red pepper flakes (chile de arbol) or more!
1 cup ice water
15m of fresh casings (you can also use the synthetic ones too)- ask the butcher
I use whole or fresh herbs or spices as a rule. The fennel seeds is placed on a dry pan and toasted for 4-5 min., then it is placed in a spice mill along with the peppercorns and ground up.
You put the pork meat through a meat grinder (if you have one or ask your butcher to grind it up for you), place in a large pot so you have space to mix everything together. Put the meat in first then add the ground spices, salt, powders and red pepper flakes. Take the dried oregano and crush it between your fingers or palms to release it's oils. Add water.
Now you have to mix it all together really well and it's best to use your hands and keep mixing until the spices are evenly distributed. Now your meat is really to fill your casings.
I no longer have my
Note: If you get fresh casings then they will need to be rinsed of the salt they're usually in and then you attach one end to the faucet and run water until it's all full so you can make sure it's really clean. Synthetic casings don't need this step.
You can also form it into patties, cool it and it will keep in the fridge 2-3 days or 3 months in the freezer. Great grilled and with tomatoes, onion and peppers.... Better than any wieners you can buy anywhere.... Or you can use this as a base for a killer Spaghetti Sauce too or Meat Loaf..... or just fry in some Olive Oil.
SWEET ITALIAN SAUSAGE -
Use the same basic recipe as above but change some of the spices:
4 tbl dried anise seed (process the same as the fennel seeds)
1 tbl dried thyme
1 cup white wine instead of the water
Add salt and pepper to taste
Like Bratwurst? Well, you can make your own and the differences with the Italian Sausage are:
GERMAN BRATWURST - The basic difference is that the meat and spices are ground together several times so you get a very fine and even mixture. You can try using a food processor and process small batches.
4 lbs pork shoulder (Boston butt)
1 lb veal or beef
2 tbl Kosher salt
1 tbl ground nutmeg
2 tsp ground mace
1 tsp ground ginger
1 cup cold milk
2 whole eggs, beaten
1 cup non-fat milk powder to bind the meat (like Carnation Dried Milk)
Trim the pork and beef, cut it all into 1 inch cubes, and grind it twice through the fine plate of your sausage grinder. Combine the spices in a 1 quart container and mix with the 1 cup of cold milk and the beaten eggs. Pour the spice, milk, and egg combination into the ground meat and mix thoroughly for at least 2 minutes. Use your hands for mixing to assure even distribution. Add the milk powder to the mixture and combine it all thoroughly with your hands. At this point you can pass the finished sausage mixture once more through the meat grinder if you so choose.
Once the sausage is fully mixed, stuff it right away into fresh or collagen casings and refrigerate or freeze immediately.
This sausage can be smoked, but that isn't traditional. If you do choose to smoke it, be sure to add 1 level teaspoon of Instacure or Prague Powder #1 to each 5 lbs. of meat mixture.German wursts are often at their best when served with a traditional side dish of sauerkraut. Another great compliment is any of a wide range of mustards, from spicy and coarse to sweet and hot.
If you have some type of sausage stuffing machine this project will be a snap. Doing it by hand like I did involves lot more work and effort but I have an excuse to recruit my guys and get them to help "poor little me"....lol..... it turns it into a family event that everyone enjoys, teaches the kids how to make sausages and everyone really takes pride at mealtime!
You can also make sausages from turkey or chicken meat, just replace the pork for these and proceed as normal. Also, feel free to adjust the seasonings and experiment, try and reproduce some you've had before or just be bold and jump right in, you'll be glad you did.
Since making the sausages take me most of the afternoon, I try and make a generous amount, use some the same day while fresh and make several packets (in freezer Ziploc bags) and freeze the rest for another day..... since you're going to do the work make it count and save yourself some work by making large batches.....
In any case or whatever flavor you like, I hope you will try them.....